How Much To Feed Chickens per Day in Cups (A Look at the Amount of Food Hens & Other Chickens Eat Daily)

How Many Cups of Food Do Chickens Need a Day?

Below is a simple guide on how much you should be feeding your laying hens, chicks, pullets, roosters, and broiler chickens in cups.

But please note that, at first, you really want to aim at giving your chickens a little more feed than you think they would eat. Over time, you’ll get a feel for how much your chickens need to be fed.

If you’re constantly finding leftover feed in the feeder at the end of the day, you can always give them a little less feed the next day.

Trust me, you’ll get to know how much your chickens eat pretty quickly.

How Many Cups of Feed Does a Layer Eat per Day?

Once chickens start laying eggs or are 18 weeks old (whichever comes first), the average hen needs about 3/4 cups (1/4 lb) of layer feed (Amazon) daily.

Of course, this is just a rule of thumb!

There really isn’t a hard rule on how much to feed your layers because it depends on the breed, how active they are, and the season. Your hens might need a little less or a little more than 3/4 cup of chicken feed per day.

How Many Cups of Feed Does a Chick & Pullet per Week?

A chick (0 to 8 weeks old) will eat around 2 1/4 cups and 3 cups (3/4 to 1 lb) of chick starter (Amazon) or starter grower feed (Amazon) a week.

This amount will gradually increase as the chickens grow bigger. A pullet (8 to around 18 weeks old) will eat about 4 1/2 cups (1 1/2 lb) a week.

Pullets should be fed a high-quality grower feed (Amazon) or starter grower feed (Amazon) until they’re 18 weeks old or they start laying, whichever comes first.

I’ve always let my chicks and pullets consume whatever amount of feed they want because they won’t overeat. I think chicks drink way more water than they eat food.

Medicated vs Unmedicated Feed

If your chicks have been given the coccidiosis vaccine, do not feed them medicated starter feed (Amazon). The amprolium in the medicated feed, which helps protect chicks against coccidiosis, will make the coccidiosis vaccine ineffective.

Give them unmedicated chick starter (Amazon) instead.

How Many Cups of Feed Does a Rooster per Day?

The average rooster needs approximately 3/4 cups (1/4 lb) of chicken feed a day. However, I’ve had big roosters that would sometimes eat much more than this amount because they were active in foraging and protecting hens all day long.

Please Note: Roosters need feed that contains less calcium (Amazon) compared to what egg-laying hens need. Do not feed them layer feed.

How Many Cups of Feed Does a Broiler Chicken per Day?

Broilers (chickens raised for meat) require a higher-level protein feed (Amazon) for maximum growth (approx. 19%-24%).

Most people raising meat birds will suggest feeding them unlimited feed 24/7 for the first 2-3 weeks and then 12 hours with feed and 12 hours without afterward until they reach slaughter weight.

Free-Feeding & Pests

If you’re going to free-feed your chickens, you might run into a problem with pests. Birds, squirrels, rats, and other pests will probably try to get a free meal from the chicken feed.

To fix this problem, I use automatic poultry treadle feeders (Amazon) to make sure only my chickens eat the feed.

These types of feeders might seem a little expensive at first, but you save so much money in the long run since you’re not feeding every wild animal in the neighborhood.

How Many Cups Are in a 50 Lb Bag of Chicken Feed?

A 50 lb bag of chicken feed typically contains between 150 and 200 cups of feed. This range can vary slightly depending on the brand and type of chicken feed.

The average adult chicken needs about 3/4 cup of feed per day, so a 50 lb bag of chicken feed would be enough to last one chicken approximately 200 to 266 days.

Conclusion: How Much Feed Will Chickens Eat?

As a general rule of thumb, you should provide 3/4 cups of feed per adult chicken each day.

However, there are a few factors that can affect feed intake:

  • It turns out that the amount of food a chicken needs to eat each day is directly related to its size. Larger chicken breeds will need more food than smaller breeds, simple as that.
  • If you’re feeding your chickens a high-quality diet that is full of nutrients, they will need less of it than if you were feeding them a lower-quality feed. (High-quality feed might cost more per bag, but it’s usually worth the money).
  • Chickens will eat more in the fall when they need extra protein to regrow feathers during the molting season.
  • They’ll also eat more during the winter months when they require extra energy to stay warm. Plus, in the winter, they’re not foraging as much so they can’t supplement their diet with seeds, plants, worms, and insects.
  • If you give your chickens too many chicken treats (Amazon), they won’t be eating as much feed. This also means they might not be getting the nutrients they need to be healthy (If you’re going to give them treats, including table scraps, make sure it’s not more than 10% of their total diet.)
  • It’s very important that chickens have access to poultry grit (Amazon) or chick grit (Amazon) if anything other than commercial feed is offered.
  • If you have egg-laying hens, then you definitely want to make sure they have enough calcium in their diet. You can give your chickens calcium in the form of crushed oyster shells (Amazon). But don’t mix the oyster shells with the chicken feed. Oyster shells should be served on the side so the laying hens will eat only what they need.

Another thing to keep an eye on when you are feeding your flock is to make sure the most dominant chickens don’t eat all the food. If this is becoming an issue consider feeding the weaker birds on their own to ensure they get some food.

But it’s always a good idea to have a few feeders and waterers (Amazon Best Sellers) to prevent bullying when feeding backyard chickens.